Lausanne, Switzerland

#ShortTrackSkating      #UpAgain

When Short Track Speed Skater Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) was asked who helped her most during the past year, the answer followed quickly. It’s her boyfriend and Speed Skater Viktor Thorup (DEN). “He helped me a lot and motivated me through these challenging times,” Prosvirnova said.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic stopped skaters around the world from training and competing during the past year, including Prosvirnova. “It’s hard to see your shape when there’s not a lot of competition. It really has been a challenging year for all of us.”

During those times, it was Prosvirnova’s boyfriend and 2018 Olympian Viktor Thorup who helped her to stay motivated. “I am very grateful to have him. He was always there to support, pushed me to train harder and to get better every day. Without him, I wouldn’t be in this good shape,” she said before competing at the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships.

The couple tried to train together as much as they could, with bike rides, inline skating and of course training sessions on ice. “When the pandemic started, I went to Portugal with my boyfriend to train on the bikes. During the season I visited him several times in Denmark, for which I needed special papers. I had the chance to travel this year and that was lucky,” she said.

Although they compete in two different types of skating, Prosvirnova said she and Thorup help each other on and off the ice. “He is not a Short Track skater, but we still have some similar kind of trainings. We can do the same aerobic trainings for example or some stuff on the ice.”

Everyday support

Prosvirnova mentioned training together as one of the advantages of being in a relationship with another skater. “But it can be tough because we train in different places. When we are not together, we are on the phone with each other and we support each other that way. Last year we both trained in Salt Lake City. Now, with the pandemic, it’s a bit more challenging. But next season we are planning to both train in Russia and I hope that works out.”

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Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)

While Prosvirnova had the chance to compete at the ISU European- and World Short Track Speed Skating Championships this year, Thorup decided to opt out from the 2020/21 international Speed Skating season. “He skipped the competitions to fully prepare for the Olympic season ahead. Of course it’s difficult not to have any competitions, but I am sure he will be fine.”

As Thorup focussed on his own training sessions on and off the ice, Prosvirnova travelled to both Poland [Euros] and the Netherlands [Worlds] to compete internationally after almost a year without international competitions. “That’s when I felt a purpose again. When you train for a long time and you don’t know when you are able to race again, you lose the motivation and feeling of purpose,” she said.

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Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)

“But when we got back to race internationally, it felt really good. Winning a medal at Europeans gave me a push as well,” Prosvirnova said about clinching bronze in the 1500m and the Overall Classification in Gdansk, Poland.


Getting back to compete internationally wasn’t easy, however. “The first race, even in the heats, was really nerve-wracking for me. There was almost a whole year without races and racing is just a whole different thing compared to training,” she laughed.

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Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“The feeling of competing, racing, skating, speed and passing others is what I love so much about Short Track. I am physically not the strongest athlete out there, so I really have to use my brains to race well. Sometimes you got to be sneaky to pass [your opponents] and save energy.”

It’s one of the reasons why the 23-year-old Russian decided to paint a Fox on her helmet a couple of years ago, Prosvirnova admitted. “I decided to make this art because foxes are sly and sneaky. That’s a good ability on the ice. The fox reminds me of my good sides and abilities in Short Track. The sport is a huge part of my life and I want to do it as long as I can,” she said.